U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller has taken charge of U.S. Southern Command, which overseas military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Speaking at the change of command ceremony Monday near Miami, Florida, Faller said that “like good neighbors,” all nations in the Americas “benefit from a strong neighborhood watch.”
He said the threats in the region were both “real and imminent,” from great-power competition to violent extremism.
Faller took command from Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, who led U.S. Southern Command since January 2016.
Tidd said U.S. Southern Command must continue to combat threats arising from “failed socialist parties,” “incompetent leaders” and illegal criminal groups serving as “drivers for migration.”
He warned that Iranian terror networks were trying to grow in the region, while Russia was also attempting to spread its influence in the Americas.
“We must not act as bystanders to a destiny that other forces are happy to dictate,” he said.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who led the ceremony, charged Faller with strengthening ties with allies in the region.
He praised the “mutual respect, teamwork and stable military relationships” the U.S. shares with allies from the region, while slamming the “irresponsible leadership of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”
“There is more in this hemisphere that binds us together than drives us apart,” Mattis said.
Prior to this post, Faller was the senior military aid for Mattis at the Pentagon.